Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, Aug. 30, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent news about the pandemic, and click here to find additional resources.
Across the globe and close to home, pushback continues against public-health measures aimed at containing the delta variant-driven surge of COVID-19 infections.
In Great Britain, crowds are massing at stadiums and some seem weary of masking and other mandates, despite a surge in infections. As the New York Times reports, “the public has moved on, even if the virus has not.”
In Washington, the state employees union has sued Gov. Jay Inslee, seeking an injunction delaying his Oct. 18 deadline for public employees to get vaccinated or obtain an exemption. The union says it is not anti-vaccine, but argues the impacts of the mandate need to be carefully negotiated before it is implemented.
Meanwhile, if your kids are struggling after a year of distance learning, experts are offering advice, including high-dosage tutoring, to help students catch up.
We’re updating this page with the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the U.S. and the world. Click here to see previous days’ live updates and all our other coronavirus coverage, and here to see how we track the daily spread across Washington.
Return to school filled with uncertainty in Mexico
MEXICO CITY (AP) — With bottles of gel, temperature checks and wide-open windows, a new school year began Monday for millions of children in Mexico.
Officially, school is starting “in person, responsibly and orderly,” according to the Education Ministry.
In practice, it will be a system that is voluntary, diverse and hybrid between in-person learning and virtual lessons in structures some call chaotic and others gradual. Thousands of schools will open their doors after a year and half of closure, but it’s not clear how many will do so, nor how many students will show up, because beyond the federal, state and local regulations, the final decision will be made by schools and parents.
“There is complete uncertainty with respect to how it’s going to go,” said Bettina Delgadillo, director of a private school in San Pedro Garza Garcia, in Nuevo Leon, Mexico’s wealthiest municipality.
Cardinal to begin rehabilitation after contracting COVID-19
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A top-ranking Roman Catholic cardinal who eschewed the COVID-19 vaccine said he will soon begin rehabilitation after contracting the coronavirus and spending days on a ventilator.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, 73, one of the church’s most outspoken conservatives and a vaccine skeptic, tweeted Aug. 10 that he had contracted the virus. He was sedated and placed on a ventilator at an undisclosed hospital. His staff tweeted Aug. 21 that he had been taken off the ventilator and transferred out of intensive care to a regular room.
Burke tweeted a letter Saturday in which he thanked God for bringing him “to this point of healing and recovery.” He said he remains in the hospital and can’t respond to individual well-wishers because he’s about to begin “intensive rehabilitation” and will be going through an “extended period of convalescence.”
Vaccinated Anchorage teachers get more leave to quarantine
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Fully vaccinated employees in Alaska’s largest school district will receive up to 10 extra days of paid time off if they test positive for COVID-19, but can’t work from home while quarantining, according to a recent memo.
However, Anchorage School District employees who are not fully vaccinated are not eligible for the leave, district spokesperson Lisa Miller said in an email to the Anchorage Daily News.
Matthew Teaford, the district’s chief human resources officer, wrote in the Aug. 23 memo to officials including principals that employees will have to show proof of vaccination before the leave can be approved.
The district is not requiring employees to be vaccinated, but Superintendent Deena Bishop has encouraged employees to do so.
New Zealand reports first death linked to Pfizer vaccine
New Zealand health authorities reported what they believe to be the country’s first death linked to the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.
A woman died of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle wall, following her Pfizer vaccination, New Zealand’s COVID-19 Vaccine Independent Safety Monitoring Board said in an emailed statement on Monday. It said myocarditis is known to be a rare side effect of the Pfizer vaccine.
The case has been referred to the coroner and the cause of death has not yet been determined; however, the board “considered that the myocarditis was probably due to vaccination,” it said. “This is the first case in New Zealand where a death in the days following vaccination has been linked to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.”
New Zealand is in a national lockdown due to a community outbreak of the highly infectious delta strain of COVID-19. It is ramping up what has been one of the slowest vaccine rollouts in the developed world, and is only using Pfizer. More than 3.3 million doses of the two-dose vaccine have so far been administered, enough to fully immunize about 23% of the population.
“The benefits of vaccination with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine continue to greatly outweigh the risk of both COVID-19 infection and vaccine side effects, including myocarditis,” the board said. “The Pfizer vaccine is highly effective in protecting against serious illness and death from COVID-19, and we remain confident about using it in New Zealand.”
State health officials confirm 2,407 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,407 new coronavirus cases and 27 new deaths on Monday.
The update brings the state's totals to 559,762 cases and 6,534 deaths, meaning that 1.2% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Tallies may be higher earlier in the week because new state data isn’t reported on Sundays and COVID-related deaths aren’t reported on the weekends.
In addition, 30,899 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 416 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 135,058 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,741 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 8,558,699 doses and 54.8% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to vaccination data, which the state updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Providers are currently giving an average of about 14,680 vaccine shots per day.
The DOH says its daily case reports may also include duplicate test results, results assigned to the wrong county, results that are reported for today but are actually from a previous day, occasional false positive tests and other data discrepancies. Because of this, the previous day’s total number of cases plus the number of new daily cases does not add up to the new day’s total number of cases. State health officials recommend reviewing the dashboard's epidemiologic curves tab for the most accurate representation of the state's COVID-19 spread.
South African scientists say new variant may have ‘increased transmissibility’
South African scientists said they identified a new coronavirus variant with a concerning number of mutations.
The so-called C.1.2. variant was first identified in May in the South African provinces of Mpumalanga and Gauteng, where Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria, are situated, the scientists said in a research paper. By August 13, it had been found in six of South Africa’s nine provinces as well as the Congo, Mauritius, Portugal, New Zealand and Switzerland.
The mutations on the virus “are associated with increased transmissibility” and an increased ability to evade antibodies, the scientists said. “It is important to highlight this lineage given its concerning constellation of mutations.”
Changes in the virus have driven successive waves of the coronavirus with the delta variant, first found in India, now pushing up infection rates across the world. Mutations are first classified as variants of interest by the World Health Organization. Once they are identified as being more severe or transmissible, they’re termed variants of concern.
2 unborn babies die after their unvaccinated moms get COVID-19, Texas officials say
FORT WORTH, Texas — Two unborn babies died after their unvaccinated mothers contracted COVID-19, Texas health officials reported.
The women were 29 and 23 weeks along in their pregnancies, respectively, the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District announced Friday.
The deaths of their unborn children are considered to be “COVID-19 related fetal demise during pregnancy,” the health district said in a news release.
In one of the cases, health officials reported the pregnant woman was in her 20s when she lost her baby at 29 weeks. She was diagnosed with the coronavirus disease and was symptomatic. Her symptoms included nausea, vomiting, fever and congestion. She was living with a family member who had also tested positive for COVID-19.
Where masks are required at the Washington State Fair
Soon enough, the fairgrounds in Puyallup will welcome people with food, rides and attractions. Until then, here are some things to keep in mind before heading to the fair as per the Washington State Fair’s frequently asked questions page.
Masks are required if people enter any indoor space on the fairgrounds. This includes bathrooms, the expo hall and the milking parlor. The Fred Oldfield Western Heritage & Art Center and the Central Pierce Fire & Rescue Station are also included.
The fair plans to monitor mask compliance in buildings at the fairgrounds.
People are not required to wear masks on rides. Masks are not required outdoors, including at Grandstand concerts and rodeo performances, but the fair recommends people wear a mask “when social distancing cannot be maintained.”
State mask bans face federal civil rights inquiries
The Education Department on Monday opened civil rights investigations into five Republican-led states that have banned or limited mask requirements in schools, saying the policies could amount to discrimination against students with disabilities or health conditions.
The department’s Office for Civil Rights announced the investigations in letters to education chiefs in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. Those states have issued varying prohibitions on universal mask requirements, which the office says could prevent some students from safely attending school.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona accused the states of “putting politics over the health and education of the students they took an oath to serve.”
“The department will fight to protect every student’s right to access in-person learning safely,” he said in a statement.
Demand surges for deworming drug for COVID, despite no evidence it works
For the past week, Dr. Gregory Yu, an emergency physician in San Antonio, has received the same daily requests from his patients, some vaccinated for COVID-19 and others unvaccinated: They ask him for ivermectin, a drug typically used to treat parasitic worms that has repeatedly failed in clinical trials to help people infected with the coronavirus.
Yu has refused the ivermectin requests, he said, but he knows some of his colleagues have not. Prescriptions for ivermectin have seen a sharp rise in recent weeks, jumping to more than 88,000 per week in mid-August from a pre-pandemic baseline average of 3,600 per week, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some pharmacists are even reporting shortages of the drug. Travis Walthall, a pharmacist in Kuna, Idaho, a town of about 20,000 people, said that this summer alone he had filled more than 20 ivermectin prescriptions, up from two or three in a typical year. For the past week, he has not been able to obtain the drug from his suppliers — they were all out.
Walthall was astonished, he said, at how many people were willing to take an unapproved drug for COVID. “I’m like, gosh, this is horrible,” he said.
EU takes US off safe travel list; backs travel restrictions
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union recommended Monday that its 27 nations reinstate restrictions on tourists from the U.S. because of rising coronavirus infections there.
The decision by the European Council to remove the U.S. from a safe list of countries for nonessential travel reverses advice that it gave in June, when the bloc recommended lifting restrictions on U.S. travelers before the summer tourism season.
The guidance is nonbinding, however, and U.S. travelers should expect a mishmash of travel rules across the continent.
“Nonessential travel to the EU from countries or entities not listed (…) is subject to temporary travel restriction,” the council said in a statement. “This is without prejudice to the possibility for member states to lift the temporary restriction on nonessential travel to the EU for fully vaccinated travelers.”
Malaysia’s new PM self-isolates, misses Cabinet swearing-in
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s new prime minister missed the swearing-in ceremony of his new government on Monday after coming into contact with someone infected with COVID-19, his office said.
Ismail Sabri Yaakob has begun self-isolating and will virtually attend Tuesday’s official National Day celebrations, according to a statement from his office. It did not say whom he came in contact with, whether he was tested and how long he would remain in self-isolation.
Ismail took office Aug. 21 amid public anger over the previous government’s failure to control a raging pandemic. Daily cases have soared above 20,000 since Aug. 5, with total infections surpassing 1.7 million. Vaccinations are moving rapidly, with 62% of the adult population fully inoculated.
His predecessor, Muhyiddin Yassin, resigned on Aug. 16 after less than 18 months in office as infighting in his coalition cost him majority support in Parliament.
‘My time to live’: Novel program gives Seattle-area kidney patients palliative care and dialysis until the end
After a decade of living with chronic kidney disease, Vonita McGee knows her body is wearing out.
At 63, McGee undergoes dialysis sessions three times a week at a Northwest Kidney Centers site near her Burien home to rid her blood of waste and water. She has endured the placement of more than a dozen ports, or access sites, in her arms and chest as sites became scarred and unusable. Late last month, doctors performed surgery to install yet another port near her left elbow, but no one is certain it will hold.
“Because of scar tissue, I was told this is my last viable access,” she said.
Without ongoing dialysis, McGee knows she could face death within days or weeks. But unlike many of the nearly 500,000 U.S. patients who require dialysis, McGee said she’s had help making peace with the process.
Judge asks a mother if she got the COVID vaccine, then revokes custody of her son
When Rebecca Firlit joined a virtual court hearing with her ex-husband earlier this month, the Chicago mother expected the proceedings to focus on child support.
But the judge had other plans.
“One of the first things he asked me … was whether or not I was vaccinated,” Firlit, 39, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
She was not, she said, explaining that she has had “adverse reactions to vaccines in the past” and that a doctor advised her against getting the coronavirus vaccine.
“It poses a risk,” she added.
Cook County Judge James Shapiro then made what the parents’ attorneys called an unprecedented decision — he said the mother could not see her 11-year-old son until she got the vaccine.
Some airlines starting to ban fabric face masks
Now that the face mask mandate has been extended through January 2022 by the federal government, a new wrinkle.
It’s no longer a question of wearing a face mask on some airlines, but the right face mask.
Turns out, some airlines are banning fabric face masks.
Finnair became the latest to do just that, tweeting its new policy out earlier this week:
“Starting 16 August, we will no longer accept fabric masks on our flights. We accept surgical masks, FFP2 or FFP3 respirator masks without a valve or other valve free masks with the same standard (N95). Please remember you need to wear a mask throughout the entire journey.”
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Washington's state employee union is suing Gov. Jay Inslee to delay his vaccine mandate from kicking in until its full impacts have been adequately negotiated. State employees have been told (along with health care, K-12 and higher education workers) to get vaccinated by Oct. 18 or get fired. That means they'd need their first dose as early as next week, depending on which vaccine they get.
COVID-19 in the skies: Some airlines are starting to ban fabric face masks. Meanwhile, the European Union plans to recommend that its member states restrict U.S. travelers again because of rising COVID-19 infections.
A judge asked a Chicago mother if she got a COVID-19 vaccine. She said no, and he revoked custody of her son.
Tens of millions of students may be months or even a year behind because of the pandemic. We took a look at what the research says about how to catch them up. The learning curve may be steepest for English-language learners; less than half logged into classes in some districts last year, by one estimate. One state's newcomer academies offer lessons in getting them back on track.
The price of admission at public schools in LA: Every single student, teacher and administrator must get tested for the virus every week — even if they're fully vaccinated. Here's how this massive public health experiment looks, and how it may affect the rest of the nation.
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